British Airways — Slough’s Favourite Airline

Harry Lang
5 min readNov 17, 2023

Britain’s national carrier used to represent the pinnacle of air travel. Now, the brand is straining under the weight of history — and increased competition from the East.

Originally publsihed by The Drum, November 2023

British Airways used to be the king of the flying world. Britain’s national carrier — the self-styled ‘World’s Favourite Airline’. For decades, BA’s advertising made you proud to be British. It had a robust confidence twinned with a self-deprecating sense of humour, best characterised in its 1999 campaign starring famed U.S. witticist P.J. O’Rourke. It launched Concorde, FFS.

BA had the best planes, the best stewardesses and stewards, handsome pilots who’d greet you as you stepped onto immaculately liveried planes. Being the biggest, BA also had the best takeoff slots and least awkward gates (which is why EasyJet and RyanAir flights landing at Gatwick still oblige you to lug your luggage from somewhere in Hampshire).

BA was the envy of the flying world — the airline everyone aspired to fly on, the brand every other brand wanted to be. It made you proud to be British.

Cruise forward a couple of decades and the only way to truly characterise this most British of British institutions is ‘plus ça change’. It’s nosedived into the very archetype of a low…

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Harry Lang

I'm a UK based CMO and author of 'Brands, Bandwagons & Bullshit' - a guidebook for young people about how marketing, advertising, media and PR work.